GS Avanti was established on 7 October 2002 by 21 founder Members, many of whom are still active Members today.
Harry Leach, one of the founder Members and the inaugural Club Treasurer, will share brief data from his memoirs.
At a house in Bromley Road, Beckenham, a group of cyclists gathered in order to discuss the practicalities of creating a new cycling club, a positive decision was made and Dave Bettison set forward to structure an agenda and find a venue for the inaugurate General Meeting to be arranged and to be held on 7 October 2002.
The General Meeting took place at the Change of Horses, a pub in Farnborough Village, and it was on that night that GS Avanti was created, the Club’s key principles were agreed with regard to adopting the motto “fun and friendship through cycling”.
Important matters on the agenda were duly decided by a ‘democratic vote’ whereupon the Club’s first Committee was formed:
- Dave Bettison – Club Captain
- Jenny Hill – Honorary Secretary
- Dave Smith – Newsletter Editor
- Harry Leach – Treasurer
Voting regarding yearly subs and donations were eagerly awaited by the ‘coin custodian’, a basic sub of £25 was agreed along with any donations thereupon, a flurry of notes changed hands, the club was solvent and following solvency a Community Bank account was duly opened with Barclays Bank.
Following the Meeting, the Bromley News Shopper was eagerly contacted with news of a new Cycling Club in the Bromley area.
One of the most important matters on the agenda at the inaugural General Meeting was the Club’s name, the founder Members were requested by the Club Captain to submit a name whereupon, a ballot was taken from the 21 names submitted, one name became prominent; Avanti – the Italian translation ‘ahead’ or ‘in front’, and submitted by Jenny Hill, Avanti won the ballot and was duly adopted along with the appendage ‘Gruppo Sportivo’ to influence a stronger continental flavour.
Along with the name, a prominent colour scheme of red, white and blue was agreed and it was not long before a new Club kit graced the weekly Club runs.
Club rides took place on Wednesdays and Sundays from the meeting point at Green Street Green.
A minor Sportive event called the ‘Ruff Stuff’, a mix of on-road and off-road riding, was promoted by GS Avanti, which incidentally became the forerunner of GS Avanti’s major event today – the Kentish Killer.
Club time trials were organised as well as trips to Wales for off road group riding.
After many meetings at the Change of Horses a venue change was necessary and on the 8th March 2004, The Woodman, a pub almost opposite was chosen however, this second venue proved unsuitable – we had run out pubs, was there a message out there – should cyclists hold meetings in pubs?
The Club Captain finally found the ideal venue, the Westcombe Park Rugby Football Club, which still remains Avanti’s meeting location to this very day.
Membership has gradually increased over the years from the 21 Founder Members in 2002, to 44 by the end of the first year and now well over 100 with Membership still expanding.
The financial strength of the Club has grown considerably, the first annual Club accounts closed 31st October 2003 with 44 paid up Members generating an income £1,227.10, whilst incurring expenses of £546.45 to leave an account surplus of £680.65 – a far cry from the numbers in today’s accounts.
Not every cycling club can count prolific riders amongst its ranks, including a former Junior Champion who managed to pip Bradley Wiggins by 3 seconds in a National Junior time trial, not least to mention whilst an Avanti Member, a Paralympic champion.
More to follow.
*Italian for genesis